EVE Online, the popular online sci-fi multiplayer spaceship game, witnessed the largest battle in 10 years due to an unpaid bill.
The game, with over 500,000 players worldwide, sees players build spaceships and earn a living in a realistic economic environment. Players can mine asteroids, sell manufactured goods, go to war and take to piracy in order to earn the in-game currency: 'Isk.'
Players can group into corporations and form alliances. A war has waged since Halloween between two massive coalitions: CFC/RUS and N3PL.
The game is divided into hundreds of different systems, connected at different points by stargates. While many new players will exist in safe areas, protected by computer-controlled police ships, most of the serious players live in areas where they rule themselves, building spacestations and other structures to establish dominance.
The battle was triggered when the N3PL coalition failed to pay maintenance fees on a system they were inhabiting, allowing their rivals to make a claim. The fee, which was meant to be set to auto-pay, will be the cause of much debate and embarrassment once the dust settles.
The territory up for grabs was a staging area for the on-going war. The loss of the system would be a massive strategic blow to N3PL, so the response was significant when they detected a subtle operation to build the necessary space station to lay a claim. It takes eight hours to claim the system and the battle escalated quickly.
N3PL brought in a fleet of carriers and CFC/RUS did likewise. The arms race continued until the majority of each coalition's fleet was committed, including massive flagships called Titans. The largest spaceship in the game, Titans, similar to a Star Wars' Deathstar, require a massive amount of resources and can take months to build. Titans are valued at approximately $3,000 of real world currency, depending on the quality.
In real-world terms, it was as if the Cold War took a turn and the superpowers pressed all their red buttons.
While the battle was initially even, with both sides losing Titans, soon the balance shifted to CFC/RUS. Due to the global nature of the game, both sides were waiting on reinforcements arriving as US players finished work and came online. The N3PL reinforcements were far less than expected and the battle became one-sided. CFC/RUS were able to cut-off access points and take advantage of superior numbers.
With over 70 Titans spaceships destroyed, the cost comes to one trillion's Isk worth of assets lost in the battle, equivalent to an estimated $300,000 in real currency.
EVE Online, created by Icelandic company CCP Games, was first published in 2003 and recorded over 500,000 players in February 2013.